Supermarkets across the country have been forced to limit the amount of iceberg lettuce and broccoli customers can buy.
Poor weather conditions in southern Europe are to blame for the reduced availability. Flooding late last year and the enduring cold weather caused severe crop damage in the region.
Timeline for consumer
Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket chain, which boasts over 3,000 stores across the country, announced that customers would be restricted to buying no more than three lettuces.
“Due to bad weather conditions in Spain, we are experiencing some availability issues but are working with our suppliers to resolve them as quickly as possible,” said a Tesco spokesman today. “To make sure customers don’t miss out, we are asking them to limit the number of iceberg lettuces they buy to three.”
Ocado, the online grocer, said it was not limiting the quantity of vegetables on offer, but urged consumers to be “flexible” about brands or varieties of the fresh produce affected by the shortage.
The discount supermarket chain Lidl increased the price its iceberg lettuce to £1.19 from 42p, despite issuing a statement saying that they are not experiencing any stock issues.
“The change [price increase] was made in response to other retail price changes in the market,” a spokeswoman from Lidl told Verdict.
The price of lettuce also went up at Sainsbury’s, the second largest UK supermarket, from 50p to £1.40.
— Tamsin Price-Jones (@TPJ23) 2 February 2017
One man from Acocks Green in Birmingham saw the supply crisis as an opportunity to make some extra cash.
Anxious shoppes vented their frustration on Twitter, posting photos of empty supermarket shelves.
My local Tesco also affected by the lettuce and salad rationing. Not much there to ration though! pic.twitter.com/NX0Mo99Fts
— Rob Gregory (@RobGregOnRetail) 2 February 2017
— Jo Wheeldon (@jo_wheeldon) 30 January 2017
“Supermarkets are working closely with their suppliers to resolve these issues as quickly as possible to ensure a minimum level of disruption for their customers,” said a spokeswoman from the British Retail Consortium,the trade association for the UK retail industry in a statement issued to Verdict.
The UK is not the only country affected by the lower stocks of leafy vegetables.
“Southern Spain provides around 80 percent of the fresh produce for the EU out of season, so it is not just the UK,” Dieter Lloyd, from the British Leafy Salads Association told BBC Radio 5Live.
“There are still stocks coming in, albeit at a reduced rate – I have seen it is as low as 30-50 percent of what we normally have – but the challenge is we are not the only people buying it. With Germany, France and the rest of the EU too, the people who are prepared to pay are going to get it,” he added.